Doing it right matters…

01 Oct

Thanks to all the parents who have been actively engaged in talking about ethics in adoption this past week after they saw something that crossed the line in the sand.  They have started a dialogue and discussions on ethics in adoption are happening on many different blogs.  I hope it is a discussion that is never stopped. 

These are the same moms who have spoken up in the past and have withstood the attacks of other misguided AP’s and PAP’s, because they aren’t willing to be silent when silence equals acceptance of extremely poor ethical conduct.  Unfortunately, some AP’s and PAP’s still do not hear and would rather use God phrases to justify bad human behavior, but take heart that some will heed your words. Please always be ready to speak out when you see things done wrong. 

If you want to make enemies, try to change something.

~ Woodrow Wilson

Every single prospective adoptive parent and those adoptive parents who have not yet done so, should read this book.  Every. Single. One.  A book that describes horrific lack of ethics and actions when power and bad intentions take center stage.  A book that will make your stomach turn, and one you won’t want to read but cannot stop reading.  After you have read this book you will realize that in various different guises, it is still happening today and you will wonder why no one ever learns from history.

The Baby Thief The Untold Story of Georgia Tann, the Baby Seller Who Corrupted Adoption by Barbara Bisantz Raymond

Finding adoptive homes for institutionalized orphans could have kept Georgia busy for decades.  Unfortunately, she wouldn’t be satisfied with merely finding homes for homeless children–she’d become obsessed with finding adoptive homes for children who already had homes.  She would acquire these children through kidnapping or deceit, and if she saved them from anything it was poverty.

Georgia considered poverty the worst possible condition. “It was her upbringing, she was from a very snobbish family that looked down on people in those shanty houses who got their hands dirty for a living.” Andre Bond of Biloxi, Mississippi, told me.

Georgia felt she was taking children from “trashy people and elevating the children,” Christine Nilan of Nashville said.  Christine had been adopted through Georgia by a cultured, educated family whom Georgia frequently visited. “It was as if she thought, “There’s something that doesn’t belong over here; I’ll put it over there,” Christine told  me.

Georgia often boasted about having placed children with “high type” adoptive parents, and she expected grieving birth parents to be comforted by this fact.

The back cover states in part: 

This is the harrowing story of Georgia Tann, who from 1924 to 1950 stole or otherwise separated more than 5,000 children from their families.  Whether abducting children outright or tricking new mothers still groggy from anesthesia into relinquishing their babies, Tann covered her tracks by replacing the names of birth parents on “amended” birth certificates.  Her ploy was legitimized by officials who legalized closed adoption, claiming this would spare adoptees the taint of illegitimacy.

Scores of children in the custody of Tann’s Tennessee Children’s Home Society died, making Memphis’s infant mortality rate the highest in the country.  Yet Tann was publicly lauded for her work.  She also amassed a personal fortune selling children to the wealthy…

Barbara Bisantz Raymond is an adoptive parent who researched Georgia for 15 years and also found many adult survivors of these adoptions..

Ethics matter and I do not believe the adoption industry wants to talk about ethics unless it is simply a pat phrase such as we are the most ethical agency in the industry or some other marketing ploy.  They don’t want to talk about it or have adoptive parents talk about it, because frankly it is bad for business.  They would rather down play or dismiss concerns when a business that deals with children should strive for the top echelon of ethical conduct and blacklist any person (AP, PAP, or employee) or agency who does not meet only the highest of standards.

He that will not apply new remedies must expect new evils; for time is the greatest innovator.

~ Francis Bacon, “On Innovation,” Essays, 1597

Most, if not all of these parents talking are on my blog roll if you want to get involved in the conversation.


Posted by on October 1, 2011 in Adoption, adoptive parents, Ethics


Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

7 responses to “Doing it right matters…

  1. Dannie

    October 1, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    has there been a major event that I’m not aware of or just conversations about things that come up that really muddy the ethical lines (e.g. ongoing Utah stuff, coercion etc.)


  2. Semi-Feral Mama

    October 2, 2011 at 3:13 am

    I have never heard of this book – thank you. I have recently realized how subdivided the adoptive communities are. As an AP to a child born in Ethiopia, I can’t imagine not having read, “There is No Me Without You.” but only accidentally stumbled upon “Mamlita,” “Message From An Unknown Chinese Mother,” and “Adoption Nation.” There is a lot of worthwhile literature out there and I am finding that reading about situations where I am not so emotionally invested I can think more critically. And I am reaching a place where I am excited to be part of the educated, concerned, communicative adoption community.


  3. The adopted ones

    October 2, 2011 at 11:54 am

    Welcome Semi-Feral Mama. Your comments in the future won’t be moderated.

    You should still be able to order the book, I ordered it a few years ago. Back in the 90’s, 60 Minutes covered it and Mary Tyler Moore (?) starred as Georgia in a TV Movie. The book is an old story but shows how government and society are willing to cover crimes up. Georgia is also one of the primary reasons adult adoptees cannot access their original birth certificates.

    I read the revised Adoption Nation and it was a good read – I think he walked a pretty fine line and yet managed to show both the good and the bad and highlighted some of the abuses that happened and are still happening, and advocated for adoptees to have their rights restored in regards to our original birth certificates.


    • The adopted ones

      October 2, 2011 at 12:17 pm

      I do think a parent has to get to the place of being able to separate their story from the larger context to really think critically – when that point comes will be different for each. I also think age, life experiences and maturity levels is a big factor

      Perhaps that is why adult adoptees can talk about it easier because by the point where we start digging we have already moved from our story that happened many decades before to what we see happening around us.

      I also think it is really important that views are shared because the agency or church view – while nice and rosy has to be countered by reality of life in general, and in that life bad happens in adoption too. Ethics matter and yes, each situtation will be unique, but you know ethics failed when you see it and that is the line in the sand.


  4. Lorraine Dusky

    October 2, 2011 at 8:15 pm

    The Baby Thief is a wonderful book! that has not been read by enough people. Thanks for posting about it. Far too few people who adopt are aware of all the circumstances surrounding modern day adoption, or why it is seen as a universally good thing. When it is not.


    • The adopted ones

      October 2, 2011 at 8:29 pm

      Hey Lorraine – thanks for stopping by. She is in my opinion a very evil woman and the primary cause adoptees cannot get their OBC…

      This book should be required reading – you have to learn the whole picture not just the pretty picture.


  5. Lorraine Dusky

    October 22, 2011 at 1:43 am

    Right . she was an evil woman who stole children and made it seem so nice.



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